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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital


What Are Cysts?

Cysts are closed sacs or pouches that contain fluid or solid material. They are usually the result of embryonic developmental anomalies. A cyst may develop from an obstruction or possibly an infection.

The location of the cyst and its contents will determine what it is called:

  • Branchial cleft cyst: Found along the side of the neck and has a mucoid discharge
  • Dermoid cyst: Commonly found on the head, neck, and groin. The cyst may contain sebaceous material--the basic elements of hair, teeth, and skin.
  • Thyroglossal duct cyst: Found in the middle of the neck, and contains mucus

Treatment of Cysts

Treatment of all cysts requires removing them completely when no inflammation is present. The surgery may be done when the cyst is first seen and before there is an infection. If the cyst is found when an infection is already present, antibiotics and warm soaks to encourage drainage will be prescribed before the surgery.


Excision and removal of the cyst is a surgical procedure. Your child will be taken to an operating room and receive an anesthetic. This procedure typically does not require a hospital stay unless the child has some additional disease which demands post-operative care.

Children will not be allowed to have food or drink before surgery, but as soon as they awaken after surgery they will be given food and liquids. There will be a bandage and little surgi-strips at the site of the surgery, and the only care needed will be to keep the area dry after cleaning the incision site. Pain medications are given to keep the child comfortable the first day or two after surgery.

Young children recover quickly and so a quieter weekend with return to school on Monday is all that is commonly required.